Ocean Park Medical Laboratory. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Ocean Park Medical Laboratory. (Aaron Hinks photo)

Residents react to Ocean Park laboratory relocation

Medical lab to be moved to Peace Arch Hospital

Ocean Park residents say they’re prepared to put up a fight after the Provincial Health Services Authority announced last week that it will relocate its Ocean Park Medical Laboratory March 2.

“I don’t think we should take it lying down. If we don’t win, that’s fine, but at least we put up a bit of a fight,” Valerie Frost told Peace Arch News Friday.

Frost was one of four residents who called PAN to criticize the decision to relocate the services to Peace Arch Hospital.

In a PHSA news release Jan. 15, Fraser Health regional medical director of laboratory services Dr. Samuel Krikler cited “low use” of the Ocean Park facility as a reason for relocation, as well as its close proximity to other labs, and the growing population surrounding Peace Arch Hospital.

Nearby resident Janice Pardy told PAN that she’s “absolutely gobsmacked,” by news of the impeding closure.

Pardy said she asked one of the laboratory employees on a recent visit how many clients used the facility the day of the news release.

“She said 50 in one day,” Pardy said. “That’s not enough to warrant keeping this little one open? I think it’s appalling.”

However, Krikler told PAN Tuesday that Fraser Health numbers show otherwise.

“Over the last several years, Ocean Park sees only 20 to 25 patients a day and that is considerably below the patients we see at other facilities across Fraser Health,” he said.

Krikler said the new location in Peace Arch Hospital will offer more services, such as ECG tests, and extended hours.

“We sense that people react to change and we will do our best to help them do that as smoothly as possible,” he said.

Pardy said the anticipated growth near Johnston Street and North Bluff Road will increase wait times at the Peace Arch Hospital facility and other laboratories in that area.

“Stop and think about it,” Pardy said. “How many bodies? And how many seniors? I don’t know if you’ve ever gone into (LifeLabs near) Semiahmoo mall… well, you better be prepared to wait an hour to two hours.”

Ocean Park resident Trish Jenkins says the longest she’s had to wait at the Ocean Park laboratory “is about 15 minutes.”

“It’s just a really convenient thing to have,” Jenkins said. “The little one here… the girls that work in there seem to know everybody.”

Jenkins said a lot of residents walk to the Ocean Park laboratory, which was reinforced by Pardy.

“Part of the joy of Ocean Park is you walk to the bank, walk to the library, walk to the pub, walk to the lab,” Pardy added. “Look at the age population down here, they’re all well into their seniors, but they’re active seniors and they like to walk.”

Pardy said that on her recent visit, she also asked why the relocation is necessary and was reportedly told that the building (1673 128 St.) needs a new floor and a new chair.

“You need a new chair? For taking blood? I said, there’s nowhere in the government where we could find money for a chair? I felt like saying, I’ll buy the damn chair,” Pardy said.

Krikler says he understands the convenience of the Ocean Park location and “fortunately, public transportation and, specifically, Dart is a free service.”

(Editor’s note: According to TransLink, HandyDart charges a $2.85 bus fare fee.)

“In individual cases, a visit for a home collection can also be arranged specifically through LifeLabs,” Krikler said.

Employees of the Ocean Park facility will be transferred to the PAH lab, he noted.

“Patients, whom we care about, will see the same smiling faces who looked after them at Ocean Park,” Krikler said.